A new Emir but plus ça change for Qatar’s international role

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani

Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani

While Qatar celebrates new leadership the wealthy emirate’s international activism is likely to continue, albeit in a different guise.


Read the article at ThinkIR



extGSN Risk Management Reports (special edition 2013)

“GSN’s annual New Year assessment of the political and financial factors that impact on the region’s polities and economies finds a marked divide between the Gulf’s high-net worth oil producers and other Middle Eastern populations, who face a more precarious outlook.

GSN’s Risk Management Report 2013 consists of 12 one-page risk management reports on the GCC, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (federation and emirates) and Yemen.

Published alongside a country map, each risk management report includes a political and financial risk grade, factboxes, key economic data, and rounds up noteworthy events and significant trends in a series of short entries on politics and economics.

GSN’s Risk Management Report 2013 is an important reference tool for anyone conducting business in the Gulf region in 2013. It is available as part of a GSN subscription or may be purchased separately.

Price: £75″

Editor: Fiona O’Brien
News Ed: Eleanor Gillespie
Contributors: John Hamilton, Phil Leech
Cartographer: David Burles
Production: Shirley Giles
Editorial Director: Jon Marks
Publications Director: Nick Carn



Image from the New York Times

Image from the New York Times

The flawed logic of a Sunni vs. Shi‘a ‘civil war’

A little article I wrote about the Sunni vs. Shi‘a ‘civil war’ rhetoric that seems to be doing the rounds…

A number of recent documentary films (such as Channel Four’s Aleppo’s Children and PBS’ Syria Undercover) have highlighted the nearly unimaginable horror experienced by those afflicted by the ongoing conflict while the Assad regime fights for its life. But it is not only because of human tragedy that coming to terms with the ‘Arab Spring’ and its fallout, in Syria and elsewhere, is a difficult task. The processes of change that are still in motion are manifold and extraordinarily complex and the nature of emerging political realities remains fluid….

read more at ThinkIR

Galtung’s ‘Structural Violence’ and the Sierra Leone Civil War c.1985-1992

This is an old paper (first published on Resolve the online journal of People and Planet in 2007). I’ve recently been reminded of it and found out that unfortunately Resolve appears to have gone offline. Anyway, here it is for the record… any and all comments very welcome!

Galtung’s ‘Structural Violence’ and the Sierra Leone Civil War c.1985-1992

Sierra Leone gained independence from the British Empire in 1961; shortly afterwards democratic elections returned the SLPP (Sierra Leone People Party) to power. The new nation’s initial democratic experience was, however, short lived. 1967 saw the overthrow of Siaka Stevens’ government by a means of a military coup d’etat. Stevens returned himself to office in the following year, this time he also was at the head of a military rebellion. The events of 1967-1968 began a period of dictatorship that transformed Sierra Leone into a de jure one party regime by 1978 (81 Adebajo, 2002). When Stevens retired in 1985 his erstwhile deputy Major-General Joseph Saidu Momoh took over the presidency of a country in economic turmoil. Momoh would lead Sierra Leone for only six years before the outbreak of one of recent history’s most bloody conflicts in 1991.

Continue reading

New Post on ThinkIR: Both Obama and Romney are wrong: obduracy will not work with Iran


Image from the Financial Times (www.ft.com)

Both parties in the forthcoming US election promise tough sanctions and threaten war against Iran. But even accounting for Tehran’s provocations the US agenda is counter-productive and cruel. The Iranian regime must be allowed to save face if conflict is to be averted.

to read the rest on ThinkIR click here

Palestine: the precarious present

The Palestinian Authority is gazing into an abyss, and it is beating people in the streets.

By Anan Quzmar and Phil Leech

Published on openDemocracy 19 July, 2012.

Anan and his brother after the police attacked

While news about Palestine has been dominated in recent days by an Al Jazeera investigation into Yasir Arafat’s death, the mainstream media has largely ignored another more serious series of events. This is that the Palestinian Authority – the regime that has administered several of small enclaves within the Israeli occupied West Bank since Arafat agreed to the Oslo agreements in the 1990s – is teetering at the edge of a political and financial abyss, and that its reaction to these circumstances is the brutal suppression the general population…. Click here to read at openDemocracy.

Why Jabal an-Nar? Researching Nablus

This is to be published in the forthcoming Bulletin of the Council for British Research in the Levant also available via the CBRL website (September 2012) by Maney Publishing.   

Many thanks to Dr. Carol Palmer, Anan QuzmarAlaa Tartir, Jeremy Wildeman, and Josh Rickard for their feedback and input – and many thanks to my Dad for his superb (and very patient) proofreading (go and read his blog!)

Why Jabal an-Nar? Researching Nablus


This article explains why the politics of the Northern West Bank city of Nablus, long an
historic focal point of Palestinian independence and resistance to foreign rule, is still an
important area for research today. Nablus suffered badly under an Israeli siege for eight
years in the early 2000s but it now represents the front line of the Palestinian Authority’s
neo-liberal ‘state-building’ agenda. The tensions between the city’s strong identity and rising tide of neo-liberalism are a microcosm of broader political dynamics in Palestine and as yet the future remains uncertain.

Continue reading

(Mis)Stating Palestine


‘I love it when a plan comes together… ‘

Some six months have passed since the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) September 2011
deadline for achieving statehood recognition from the United Nations General Assembly.

These goals, as articulated by PA leader Mahmoud Abbas in a speech to the GA, have not been met. This should not surprise anyone; the 2011 bid for statehood itself came 13 years after Yasir Arafat made similar proposals in 1988. At that time and under different circumstances, the PLO leadership-in exile had claimed independence when it formally endorsed the “two-state solution” in Algiers and at the United Nations in Geneva.

Read the rest of this article published on e-InternationalRelations.


Protesting in the rain outside the Moqata'a, Ramallah, in January 2012

Re-reading the Myth of Fayyadism: A Critical Analysis of the Palestinian Authority’s Reform and State-building Agenda, 2008-2011

Published by the The Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS), Doha, Qatar on 11th April 2012.


Fayyadism is a term coined by New York Times columnist Tom Friedman that has gained widespread usage in the media and the quasi-academic literature emanating from various high-profile English-language think tanks. The term is named after the current prime minister of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Dr. Salam Fayyad, formally an economist at the IMF, and is used to describe the raft of political and economic reforms that have been central to the PA’s state-building agenda. Supporters of this agenda from all sides have promoted it in orientalist terms (i.e., as a reasonable method for Palestinians to achieve their national goals), in contrast to uncivilized armed resistance and/or Islamism. This paper argues that Fayyadismdoes not, in fact, constitute a radical new approach to ending the occupation or liberating Palestinians. Rather, Palestinian agency remains contingent on the same basic dynamics as it has since the beginning of the Oslo process. If Fayyadism has had any effect at all on this arrangement of power, it has been to entrench the occupation rather than to end it.

To read the full article click here.